Biological clocks: in which I am bemused and curious.

I don’t seem to have a biological clock. I just don’t. No particular pull towards children or producing them; no visceral urge to reproduce; no sense of impending loss. I’m finding this paragraph difficult to write, already, because while many women I’ve discussed this with and several friends I love and respect have spoken to me seriously about their experience of broodiness and their desire for children – and I take these conversations very seriously – I actually can’t imagine what having such a thing must be like.

It’s not that I dislike children. My boyfriend has a lovely daughter, and I am happy (and indeed looking forward) to being some kind of truth-telling unconventional crazy aunty-friend type person as far as she’s concerned (although I would imagine is she lived with him full time, this might be more of an issue than it in fact is.) The same goes for any child I may know as they grow up. My friends’ babies are often cute and interesting – little unformed people! How curious! – and I’m happy to spend time with them and make a fuss of them as long as I get to give them back again. When my boyfriend’s daughter (probably to be referred to henceforth as the anti-stepdaughter) turned to me with huge eyes and said ‘are you going to be my new stepmother?’ my response was one of barely concealed horror, and the explanation that I’d like to be her friend and her dad’s girlfriend but I really wasn’t the maternal type. (She took this in her stride, bless her.) Individual kids are interesting because of their parents or their potential or their perspective, and whilst I certainly wdn’t want to spend all my time with one, I’m happy for them to be around. (Exceptions to this include any child displaying cruelty or malice, but that’s hardly exclusive to children. People are generally horrible, I can’t single out kids here.)

biological clock spiralI googled ‘biological clock’ and many of the articles I found simply assume a ‘ticking biological clock’ is a given. One actually goes so far as to describe babies as ‘sweet, lovable lady kryptonite’, but then it also makes a bunch of REALLY PROBLEMATIC gender assumptions and suggests looking at cute animal pictures on the internet constitutes a subsumed desire to reproduce, and I have several case studies (including myself) to disprove such an assertion. There’s a probably unsurprising critical mass of stuff claiming women’s ‘ticking biological clocks’ make them ‘crazy’. (This paragraph is difficult too, for rather different reasons: try googling ‘daily mail’ and ‘biological clock’ and you’ll see what I mean. But I won’t fucking link to them.) There’s a constant undertone – sometimes even in articles decrying the ‘pressure’ placed on women – that the desire for children is a) unarguable b) universal but c) ONLY WOMEN’S BUSINESS. There’s a side order of we all ought to be having children in our early twenties JUST IN CASE WE ACCIDENTALLY SLIPPED and had a career, a good time, a lot of excellent safe sex, or an exciting decade of international travel and counter-espionage instead of fulfilling our BIOLOGICAL DESTINY. Which, as a woman and a feminist but mostly as a HUMAN BEING pisses me the fuck off.

But maybe this is me? Maybe in my bemusement I am missing something. Certainly many excellent women of my acquaintance perceive themselves as subject to some sort of cumulative psychosociocultural or biological pressure. (I suspect it helps that my beloved and mostly sane parents are quite definitively and notably without any desire or expectation of grandchildren, either from me or from my happily-married brother.)  There are evidently two factors here: one, the changes in fertility as women age (and quite possibly men and others too, but I couldn’t find a useful/reliable article on this. Although there are lots out there and again Google is your friend. I would imagine genderqueer folk or those of other genders generally have to fit themselves into the ridiculous broad brushstrokes of mainstream cultural discourses on this somewhat uncomfortably anyway – if anyone could point me in the direction of some articles, that would be amazing. ) And two, an intense perceived psychological and social pressure to achieve a life structure into which you can bring children before it’s ‘too late.’ (‘Too late’ to bear one’s own biological children, one assumes – it looks like there’s no upper age limit on adoption, in the UK at least, and some support for ‘older’ parents of foster children, whose average age is 50+. But I imagine if you perceive a biological pressure, you’re probably pretty invested* in being genetically related to your kids.) And I find SPECTACULARLY difficult to detach the concept of a particular biological experience attendant on femininity – which, to reinterate, at the grand old age of 33 I have yet to perceive the faintest whisper of – independent of the contemporary cultural constructions surrounding femininity, gender, maternity, parenthood, and all the rest of that colourful mess, and yet that is implicitly what so much discourse around this is asking me to do. To assume that I have a biological deadline which somehow causes all the psychological stuff.

It might be relevant at this point to tell you that my family, whilst in some ways as monumentally fucked up as Philip Larkin could possibly wish, were unconventionally functional in some ways. My dad never discussed anything even vaguely related to my future spawning or otherwise, to my recollection at least, and my little mother** never made me feel I ought to have children; to be honest, insofar as I can remember she urged me not to, because I could get more done that way. There was probably an ‘unless you want them of course’ tacked on as an afterthought, but I can’t remember it. [There is some psychological mother-daughter mess here that I won’t go into, but if you read Luce Irigaray’s ‘And The One Doesn’t Stir Without The Other’ it’ll give you the general emotional gist.] Certainly I left childhood with no sense that motherhood was my destiny, and I remember shocking my then-lover aged 17 with the assertion that I didn’t want children. (‘But…why not?’ ‘Why would I?’ was my unanswerable and, at the time, apparently highly disturbing response.) There’s an interesting parallel here with alcohol – my family never really drank when I was growing up, it was never part of my family culture, and although I drank a bit with friends as a teenager, I sort of never really saw the point. (When I needed an emotional crutch or a means of self-destruction, in a metabolically-slender and unashamedly foody family I picked self-starvation. Go figure.) As an adult I occasionally have half a drink and fall over. Close friends sometimes find it hilarious to offer me tasty alcohol and observe this process. I am generally fine with this – I rarely finish a drink and never get hangovers.

So yeah, it’s hard for me not to see – accurately or otherwise – a parallel between growing up in an environment where parenthood was neither particularly expected nor welcomed and one where alcohol wasn’t really a thing. My contemporaries seem drawn to both, and I’ve never really understood either. (Well, I’m a bit clearer post-several-breakdowns on the anaesthetic possibilities of alcohol, but it was never my drug of choice, despite occasional attempts.) And it’s hard, from this apparently-detached, unusual perspective, not to see the bullshit peddled above about women and their ticking, crazymaking biological clocks as the misogynist imposition of a patriarchal culture – the not-even-very-sophisticated descendent of the age-old concept of the female body as dangerous, impulsive, shifting, unstable, women as possessing inferior wit and judgement and the root of their problematic and permeable inferiority lying in their reproductive organs. People in the early modern period used to believe that the womb left its space above a woman’s vagina and wondered around the body suffocating things and causing all manner of symptoms, including emotional and psychological ones – it could be treated by lighting feathers under the sufferer’s nose, which the errant uterus would dislike and return to its normal harbour. This was referred to as ‘the mother’. I’m not making this up, although I can’t work out a way of linking to the relevant chapter of my PhD here. We may have better understanding of anatomy these days, but are we really significantly less inclined to impose sociocultural constructions on the body? How is that even possible? Are we any more able to remove ourselves from our cultural context in order to see fully all the ways in which we might be influenced? I doubt it. After all, to quote the excellent Helen Malson, ‘The body is not, for all its corpo-reality, a natural, transhistorical object. It is always-already constituted in and regulated by socio-historically specific discourses.*** Which in somewhat less theoretical language means that our experience of the body is shaped by our understanding of it, and our understanding of it is culturally constructed. 

This is absolutely not to deride the very real experience of women who experience the ticking of a biological clock. Their experience is every bit as legitimate as my own. We are culturally constructed creatures, neurologically as much as anything else, and it’s entirely plausible (to my moderate knowledge) that an identity formed in hope or expectation or assumption of a particular biological future becomes physiologically and neurologically present in some sense. Bodies are amazing. I am as much a product of my problematic culture as anyone, lord knows I’ve done some stupid enough things as a complex physiologically-responsive result of internalised cultural conditioning, cf my decade-long experience of eating disorders. So yes, not a judgement.

A question, though. I am very interested in people’s thoughts here. Does this make sense to you? If you have a ‘biological clock’, how does it feel? How does it relate to your personal history/cultural background? Is this all bollocks compared to the vividly experienced reality of living in your body? I am interested. And, er, feel free to comment anonymously.

 

*That autocorrected to ‘incested’. Comment superfluous.

**pet name. My family are all ‘little’. I call the anti-stepdaughter ‘little one’. Families, eh. They get under your skin.

***Malson, Thin Woman, 49

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About Goblin

Academic, critic, endlessly fascinated; reads, thinks, listens and talks far more than is good for her. Ex-anorexic, ex-ME, excitable, queer, kinky, nosy, mouthy. Purveyor of uncomfortable truths. Talks filth in public. Likes rabbits, old houses with big windows and John Wilmot Earl of Rochester. Needs more sleep.
This entry was posted in Culture, Psychobabble, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

88 Responses to Biological clocks: in which I am bemused and curious.

  1. Sam says:

    I’ve never quite understood the idea of an imperative, undeniable biological clock, either; it’s just not something I’ve really experienced. I do, however, want to have a child, despite never being interested as a child, teen or until my late 20s. It’s only over the last 5-6 years.

    But, those 5-6 years are the ones that coincided with me having a nice partner who would make a good, equally-sharing father and therefore make the whole thing tenable for me; it wasn’t a sudden revelation or a biological urge, it was a small growing-up and the realisation that, actually, we could do this together, and it would be good. Also, if it didn’t work out, I would be upset for the life-not-lived, but it wouldn’t devastate me and I can see plenty of good reasons not too.

    That said, I’ve experienced it vicariously through a few good friends enough times to know that some women really do feel this time-opinion-shift-thing; perhaps it’s cultural, perhaps it’s a bit of both?

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  2. Lyndsey says:

    Perhaps the “ticking biological clock” is constructed by society, perhaps it is a natural evoluntionary process. I think it’s a bit of both. At times of uncertainty, when one is looking for meaning and fulfilment, when all around other people are fulfilling their “societal obligations” by creating offspring, being the outsider is hard – the childless woman cannot interact in a meaningful way with peers who have children – a chasm opens up between lived and unlived experience. Sometimes the desire for children is merely a desire to belong to the group; to be accepted by society; to achieve respect.
    However, following the path of motherhood merely to fit in with everyone else is a dangerous and potentially self-destrcutive choice – one which society pressures women to do. At the grand old age of 33, there is suddenly a need to reassess earlier statements of childlessness and rationally weigh up the pros and cons of reproduction, before the choice is taken away forever.
    Of course, many women are conceiving well into their forties, but many are not. The scare stories about “leaving it too late” and the articles about failed IVF cycles are part of a trend to which our generation belong. The conception Mafia (read here all friends and relatives with children as well as the NCT and Mumsnet etc.) would have us believe that life without children is unfulfilling and a waste of time: that we are selfish.
    Is there anything more selfish than to replicate your DNA? [I’m a supporter of fostering and adoption – I don’t believe that the obsession with creating your own biological children through IVF etc. should be encouraged when there are so many children alive who need safe, loving homes]
    I know intentionally childless women; I know unintentionally childless women; I know lots of women with children. The women with children believe I will crack and get pregnant eventually, thereby joining their “side”. The intentionally childless woman views this with horror, as if I am deserting the child-free sisterhood.
    I think I am making too much of this. The natural self-doubt and paranoia inherent in being female (and ever so slightly mad) is coming out in waves. My husband is less bothered: “it’s up to you”, he says, as if deciding to be a parent is a choice as simple as choosing what to have for dinner.

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    • Goblin says:

      Oooh, interesting. A couple of things:

      1) I am curious that you say ‘the childless woman cannot interact meaningfully with women with children’. Although obviously my close friendships with women have been or will be changed if they have children, I’ve always felt (or hoped) that we will do our best to bridge the gaps in experience with communication and understanding and empathy, although my ability to join baby-related small talk with acquaintances is pretty limited to ‘ooh, they’re so cute’. Is the latter what you’re referring to, or have you actually lost friendships or connections through people having kids?

      2) it would bother me, in your situation, were my partner to transfer all the responsibility for such a major decision, to which both of you are committed for life, onto me. That seems a recipe for resentment.

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  3. So, I’m a trans man and I’m in my mid-twenties. Due to transition-related medicine, I am now almost certainly infertile as I’ve essentially gone through the menopause age 20. So, there was just under a decade of my life when my body was potentially capable of bearing a child – and I desperately wanted to. I still deeply truly want to be a parent and I’m sure one baby I will but the desperation, the ache and actual *physiological reaction* to seeing a baby… that’s gone. My first couple of years on testosterone (effectively, the beginning of my menopause) I was broody as anything. My breathing would stop and my heart-rate increase when I saw a baby. I’d experience a sort of tightness approximately where my internal reproductive organs are and strong, strong emotions of happiness mixed with longing. I really wanted to have a baby and had to keep reminding myself that I had a degree to finish first, that I knew I wasn’t actually psychologically capable of pregnancy, that I was planning to adopt… all the reasons why I could not infact have a baby *right now*.

    My biological clock has stopped completely. I am much more okay with this than I could ever have predicted. I see babies and young children as awesome little people to interact with and I’m content to wait for the right circumstances before welcoming one permanently into my life. Some acquaintances recently had a baby and I was surprised to find that I was not among the crowd of those declaring the child to be the cutest most adorable baby in the world ever (which I would once have done) and just thinking “Oh look, such and such’s baby happened”.

    So, I guess I’m saying that hormones are tricksy things and they can and do influence how people think and feel but that doesn’t mean they affect everyone the same or that *how* hormones affect you isn’t impacted on by culture and other social factors.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. it’s a strange old world, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Topic near and dear to my heart . I wrote a short story about it called Baby Goggles over at TheIndieChicks.com but aside from that I am horrified, continually horrified at what you mention — the quiet societal pressure for women to have babies in their early twenties. On another note, there might be some biology connected to why people do what they do and when. I’m sure the levels are different for everyone. Like women who feel particularly amorous when they are ovulating, or the unexplainable attraction some women feel when they see a man holding a baby. “That’s so sexy.” Why? Aren’t men supposed to be nice to babies? And if he’s holding a baby it might mean that he’s taken, so why the attraction? Biology is the answer for some. But sometimes biology doesn’t apply to all of us and sometimes we need to work against it. It is true that women can only get pregnant and give birth for a finite period (pardon the pun) in life. That’s a fact, but other than that? I blame Facebook. And it goes back to — if you show a baby girl pictures of shoes from the moment she’s born, she’ll want shoes and think they’re important. She might stumble upon that interest anyway and become a shoe girl which is not a bad thing, but it’s different if she’s been programmed to it. If starting at age 21 women are bombarded with photos of women with babies saying that’s what’s she’s supposed to be doing, it may trigger that biological clock — but is that real? I blame Facebook. Of course, I blame Facebook for everything.

    Then there are those studies that say that men are attracted to women with long hair and perky breasts and those are attributes usually sported by women in their child bearing years and it’s all a great big biological plan to populate the earth. Whatever.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. There is a HUGE societal pressure to reproduce. I did feel, as I was approaching 30, that I wanted to reproduce, and I did. But on the other hand, I’ve never felt this ‘love’ for children in general. Obviously I love my own! But despite having four of them, I still wouldn’t say I’m a baby-person. And I’m a school teacher, too… maybe I’m just in denial?!! LOL

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that despite what society tells you, not wanting children is as normal as wanting them. In previous generations, it was imperative for the survival of the group to have babies. I wonder how many women back then would have decided against having children, if there had been better access to contraception, and if there had been less pressure to reproduce.

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  7. I admire you for this post. As someone wanting children, yet experiencing unexplained recurrent pregnancy loss, I’ve had a lot of time to contemplate life with or without children. First, I applaud you for knowing what you want and what you don’t want and for acknowledging your choice, regardless of societies perception. Though my experience I have found that I truly admire anyone willing to make there decision regarding children honestly, regardless of what that decision is.
    Second, in response to your question about a biological clock, my desire for children has nothing to do with the clock – although the clock probably means more to me then my husband. And our medical specialists continue to tell us that at the age of 31 we are considered young, and eventually one of our pregnancies will work – to that I respond, I am currently young, but if we continue to average 2 miscarriage a year (our current average), it wont be long until I am old by there definition (35). So, while I’m not necessarily driven by a biological clock, thanks to my doctors I am well aware of its ticking.
    Thirdly, great post. I really enjoyed it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • ditchthebun says:

      I am so sorry to hear of the problems you are experiencing. My Husband and I are having a similar problem in that we are not conceiving at all, I think sometimes he thinks I am a lunatic because when it gets close to that time every month I am on edge praying that it doesn’t come and then when it does the emotions are just all over the place… at this point I think he is terrified of what might happen if that little stick does ever have a plus sign on it 🙂
      If you’re anything like me you no longer feel young at 30… you feel after 3 years of trying that you are old, tired and kind of over it, but still so desperate for that child that you will continue to do everything in your power to get them.

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      • Thanks for responding and sharing your experience. I completely understand the neurotic nature of 1 line versus 2 lines on the stick! I think anyone trying for a children who doesn’t have an easy go of it (regardless of the cause – miscarriages or unable to conceive), becomes incredibly emotional and starts to fear the outcome. The reality for is, we have gotten really good at miscarriages and I’m not sure how I will ever handle experiencing a healthy pregnancy let alone actually having a child.
        And I absolutely agree with you, after 5 miscarriages in nearly 2 years, I no longer feel 31! I am convinced I have aged at least 10 years as the experience of miscarriage wrecks havoc on one’s body both physically and emotionally.
        Wishing you the best in your path to children, whatever that path looks like. 🙂

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      • ditchthebun says:

        I do sooo hate those sticks and who would have ever thought that feeling joy or agony would hinge on one line or two?
        I feel terrible that you have to write “we have gotten really good at miscarriages”, but I know exactly what you mean by it as I have gotten really good at not falling pregnant 🙂 But from the couple of msgs we have had I get the impression that you are a really strong woman – you must be to get through what you have and if you can get through that I’m thinking that pregnancy and birth will be a breeze in comparison 🙂
        I wish you all the best too!

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    • Goblin says:

      Thank you so much! I appreciate your thoughtfulness, particularly given how difficult your current situation must be. It sounds horrendous.

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      • Thanks for writing such a thought provoking piece! Although, my situation is pretty horrendous, I’ve decided rather then cowering in a corner and crying, I’m better off sharing it and helping others.

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  8. I have no biological clock, either and it’s Dee. Light. Ful.

    I’ve met lots of women like this. We are all caring, nurturing, empathic, social beings who simply have zero desire to procreate. With the recent upsurge in the parental style of letting one’s child scream like a tornado siren in public places, I wish more people had followed my lead.

    All of nature runs along a sliding scale, science is just getting around to admitting this. There are degrees of maternal instinct. If anyone judges you for feeling something different than what they think is “normal,” that says more about them than you. Don’t worry about it.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. franhunne4u says:

    Childfree woman here, at the age of 46 (nearly there). Voiced my decision not to want kids first with 16. With 26 the gynaecologist denied me a tubal ligation, saying I was “too young to know” (HELLO? I was allowed to drive a car, vote, even use fire arms for sports or hunting reasons, I was allowed to HAVE a child – which would have been a life changing decision – a oneway ticket – how was I too young to decide AGAINST them for ever – just the reverse one-way?) – well, I knew well back twenty years ago what I know now … Children do not fit into my life. And that is ok – some of my best friends have never reproduced and never wanted to, either. Motherhood is NOT ingrained in every woman’s heart. And I still feel a complete and happy woman. If there is a clock ticking, I just ignore it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Holy crap, that’s insane. You could sue the white coat right off his back these days for that kind of head-up-ass prejudice. Well, depending on which state you live in, I guess. (sigh)

      Honey, the only clock that matters is the one saying there’s just three minutes left until the cookies are done. BING!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Jane says:

    Interesting topic. Growing up, I never thought about having children (or getting married), but I wasn’t opposed to it, either. I just thought what will happen will happen, and decided I’d be OK either way.

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  11. Rory says:

    I always wanted children, and because I turned out to be fertile, having them myself turned out to be the easiest and least expensive way. That said, the culture around pregnancy irritates me. It remains one of the riskiest things a woman will do in her life, even in the US and the UK. Although it’s safer than ever, I’ve known two women who died of complications in pregnancy. It changes your body forever. No one should be forced or feel obligated to do it. I wouldn’t change my choices, but for many women it turns out much more difficult than the magazines and Rickie Lake promised and you can’t always know who they’ll be. I endured essentially a year of bedrest and risk to have my boys. I’d do it again but would never demand it of anyone else, or even recommend it if you don’t feel the deep urge.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Rory says:

      Revision: I’d do it again in retrospect, but whereas I once wanted a big family, I wouldn’t have a fourth pregnancy knowing what I do now for anything.

      Like

      • Goblin says:

        That makes a lot of sense! Thank you for sharing. Certainly, I agree instinctively that putting yourself through that much if you’re not sure you want to and are prepared for the potential consequences.

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  12. candidkay says:

    It takes courage and self-knowledge to admit you are different from cultural norms. Yet, some of the women I respect most decided not to have kids–and are phenom aunties. So many social norms, so little time. And I’ve seen what happens when women sans that maternal instinct procreate–a lot of misery on all ends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Goblin says:

      Oh, I’ve had a far bit of practice in some senses – certainly my social groups predominantly identify as outside them, which helps. But TOTALLY with you on misery engendered by unwanted procreation.

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  13. ksfinblog says:

    when the patriarchal religion and tribes took over most of the world some 2000 years ago or such, they preferred weak women (small size, low self esteem etc.) These qualities were preferred and encouraged socially……..

    The system still persists and most women comply with it, because it is easier to go with the flow than fight and be labelled a troublemaker. You, my dear, are the nature’s way of fighting back.

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  14. rikkilynn says:

    I am right there with you! No biological clock here neither ..and I am truly ok with that. The friends I do have that rushed into the families, babies and marriage are not happy in their lives and are just faking their way through it. I wonder how many women truly don’t have the urge to reproduce, yet do it due to the pressure society puts on them to hurry it up! Great post!!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m only 23, so maybe my clock hasn’t started ticking yet- but I’ve never had a desire to have children. I thought I would have some one day when I was in elementary/ middle school because that’s simply what people do. However, as I’ve grown up, I’ve realized I really don’t care to. I considered maybe adopting an older child one day, but not for the purpose of filling an emptiness within myself (as I possibly wrongly think of the strong desire to have a baby of your own- but this probably comes down to me never feeling this urge). Since, I’ve decided against it all together. I just am perfectly content without a child. I have no desire for one- I don’t see it as romantic in any way to have to care for a child. Yet, I’m told I will change my mind, that I should want kids because I’d be “such a good mother.” I’m also continuously asked why, as if this is the most absurd non-decision I will ever make in my life.

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  16. mcbarlow5 says:

    If only more people who feel like you do would heed their own instincts, the world would probably be a better place. I always wanted a child but, when I didn’t have one by 30, I adopted through foster care. That decision too was not without risk, but fortunately I got lucky and have a great little boy. Great post, and good luck in whatever you decide to do!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. N says:

    Lyndsey’s reply leaves me with very little to say, and I should probably bookmark it for re-reading.

    My own ha’pennyworth is that we internalise our reasons, and express reasons which often are more, or less, than they seem; and I say this as someone who has been damaged -hollowed-out, if you will, and somewhat less than I once was – by a decade or two with moderate-to-severe depression.

    I do not have the depth of emotional engagement to engage with small children; nor the emotional resources to sustain a relationship with a child over a period of years, providing emotional support to both them, and to another parent.

    I have the grace not to have internalised this as a dislike of small children (unless they are making a particularly noisy effort to be unpleasant) but I choose to spend as little time with them as I can; and I take some care that the time I do spend with children is on terms where I can hand them back when it’s time for me to do so.

    Add to that, that the depressive illness is familial, and much of what I am is visible in my cousins on that side of the family: I’m not at all sure that anything I want could possibly justify inflicting that on someone else.

    I wish more people thought of that; and I wonder if you have too, and have internalised it somewhat.

    There is also the thought that if a child were mine, and truly mine: do I truly deserve two decades of my life with with such an insufferable BRAT ?

    No, don’t answer, thank you.

    .
    .

    (Posting somewhat anonymously, although we do know each other fairly well).

    Liked by 2 people

    • Goblin says:

      That makes a lot of sense. And I think you totally get bonus points for self-awareness and acknowledging your own capacities – I strive for that, rather than assuming on little evidence it’d be okay.

      Like

  18. Jean says:

    Every woman does have a biological clock –she menstruates, later perimenopause and then menopause.

    Wanting to have children is a separate different need, and more psychological. It needs to be, because a mother must want to …be a mother for several decades of life at least..

    No, I knew around 19, children were not for me. I’m eldest of 6 with the youngest 10 yrs. younger than I. So I saw the stresses of parenting, chaos, etc.

    Just happy to be an aunt to 7 nieces and nephews from 3 sisters.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jean says:

    Yes, I did question myself –very briefly and vaguely. But never lost sleep over my tendencies not to want children.

    No regrets and am @55 yrs. My partner has 2 adult children. He’s also glad…2 is enough for him.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. crazydoglady says:

    This is a great post! I don’t ever hear my biological clock ticking because mine is broke. One of the beauties (the very very few beauties) of infertility is that I didn’t have to make this choice. I could always choose to adopt later in life but right now I am happy doing my own thing. Kudos to you! Good luck in which route you end up taking

    Liked by 1 person

    • Goblin says:

      Heh, yes. I certainly really liked the period during anorexia recovery (like,5 or 6 years or so) when it literally wasn’t an option. I’m pretty sure it isn’t now, realistically, given the state of my bones. And it provided a fairly effective partner filtration system, too.

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  21. artiffairs says:

    Reblogged this on Artiffairss.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. ditchthebun says:

    I am going to be brutally honest here. I completely understand and respect that every woman is different, I think that is fantastic and I encourage everyone to embrace their individuality, wear it proudly (as long as it harms no one) and damn society if it gets annoyed because you don’t fit into their cookie cutter world. Rant over.
    In saying that… I haven’t always felt the ticking, I have always assumed I would have children at the right time. So I did all the right things, used protection, worked hard, did some travelling, met a boy, got married, then decided to stop using protection and see what happened. I started to get excited… 12 months later I was quite nervous and went to get some general testing done, nothing wrong with me and the doc wants Hubby to be tested before they do any further tests on me because the next tests are invasive. Okay, cool. After a year I finally get Hubby to go for test one, results aren’t great and they ask for retest… it is now a year since the first test… My clock is now past ticking… the alarm has been screaming it’s lungs out for around 2 years now and everytime my Husband says I just need to relax and it will happen naturally I feel like punching him. I am not a violent person generally, but when someone tells you to relax for 3 years and it is quite obvious to anyone with a logical brain that something is not working, but this person just does not want their masculinity threatened by the possible results of the test… well you start to see red.

    Like

  23. msgarciafan says:

    Just a thought, but I doubt the Bible would have instructed people to “be fruitful and multiply” if all women in ancient society had a strong, overwhelming desire to have children. Women haven’t been free for most of human history, so we can’t really look back at history to determine how most women felt about having kids. I’ve heard many women who got married in the 60’s say that getting married and having kids was “just what people did”.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. kindredfreedom says:

    That ticking clock is poorly calibrated and belongs to a rusty society that sees only what it allows itself to see.

    Liked by 2 people

  25. Mae-Lin Leow says:

    Like you I have no sense of a biological clock in the reproductive sense, because I also have no desire to be a mother. As an athlete though I so have an awareness of a kind of “biological countdown” as I am keenly aware of the changes my body goes through in terms of recovery rates as I get older. This has sometimes manifested as poor decision making based on a sense of urgency and “time running out.” Not quite the same thing, but this is the experience that I use to try to understand women who have a sense of a reproductive time-limit.

    Like

  26. Reblogged this on My Singularity and commented:
    We share the same views on child bearing and rearing…

    Like

  27. mightystiky says:

    Reblogged this on The Childfree Diaries and commented:
    I think I’ll share this on the Chronicle of Higher Education’s Facebook page in light of their sharing a Vitae article about a woman who decided to hold off on getting pregnant to pursue her graduate studies (which is one of many things that makes me glad I decided not to go into academe).

    Like

    • Do you have a link for that article? I’m in my early 20s and have no plans of getting pregnant in the near future, but I do want a career in academia and I would definitely wait to have children in order to pursue my academic career.

      Actually, I’m not even 100% sure that I want children at all in the future. I come from a big family and all of my siblings, apart from one, have two or three children. I love spending time with my nieces and my nephew but I also see how stressful and tiring it is to raise children. It’s nice to hand them back to their parents after a day!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. mightystiky says:

    A slightly funny story to change things up a bit on this topic. Not too long before I was let go from my most recent job, I was discussing the Olympics with a couple co-workers. A third one (“Tim”) came over and joined the conversation. At one point, he wondered about how the athletes cope with the jet lag. However, he said, “I wonder how long it takes for their biological clocks to reset.” Even though I knew what he meant, I was too flabbergasted to correct him. It doesn’t help that he’d mentioned kids/reproduction to me several times before, including telling me a name he’d seriously consider giving his potential son and mentioning a genetic mutation he carries that is linked to hemochromatosis (thus needing to get his kids screened for it). It was bizarre, and his somewhat frequent mentionings of kids around me put a bit of a crimp in our friendship, something that was admittedly rife with problems due to his conflicting behavior around me.

    While I contemplated having kids early in life, I ultimately decided not to reproduce. I grew up with two childfree aunts that had a great impact on my life. I have many happy memories not only of time spent with them but time spent meeting their friends and visiting their workplaces. I had a chance to experience the childfree life early on, and I loved it instantly. It was freedom, and it was glorious. While there may be some biological twitch that stems from ovulation, I find it pretty easy to ignore because I know there’s a lot of world out there waiting for me to explore. It’s easier and more fulfilling to be able to explore without kids around.

    Like

  29. cathylass says:

    You’re only 33 – the clock WILL tick. 🙂

    This doesn’t mean you’re gonna want kids – but you body might tell you too.

    I never wanted kids. To be honest – I don’t like kids. Babies bore me, toddlers are a nightmare, young kids annoy me… and teeagers – need I go there? 🙂

    But at 35 it came – the urge to reproduce. So strong I wanted to strangle my other half for not being able to provide my body with what it wanted. What it needed.

    My body was screaming “give me a fucking baby!” and my mind was screaming in terror “are you fucking insane?”. But it passes. It doesn’t feel like it when the urge is there, but it does… and now 2 years free of any sort of reproduction urges. 😀 They might come back, but I got my fingers crossed for early menopause. 😀

    Like

    • Not quite 40 says:

      Mine never ticked. But I decided to have a child anyway. So, no guarantee it WILL tick; although it may tick later.

      Like

    • Steph says:

      I’m 48. I spent most of my thirties waiting for my body clock to kick in. It never did and I’m pretty sure now that it never will.

      I was less than ten years old the first time I remember saying I didn’t want to have children and I’ve never had the least deviation in that. I don’t enjoy interacting with most children (or indeed plenty of adults either) so having children that I had 24/7 care of would be good for no one.

      Like

  30. jwbean says:

    Thank you! Love this! I am not alone, cheers!

    Like

  31. If there is a such a thing a biological clock, mine is ticking…but only because I looooovvvveeee babies and children. They are just beautiful and soft, and I want one of my own. Like some people are dog crazy or like cooking, I’m baby crazy. I seriously want to snatch one off the street. They are so fascinating. Little people! And I love the way they look at you in wonder, with little wobbly heads.
    I have, however, no fondness for teenagers. All mine are going to boarding school 🙂

    Like

  32. lruthnum says:

    This is such a fantastic post and sums up what I’ve been arguing for years – I just feel like I’m missing that gene. Like you, I can appreciate the cuteness and the benefits of family life, but I feel no real urgency or need to have that. I hate the way society seems to pressure us, or even look at us like freaks for not being desperate to stretch out our bodies and spend the rest of our lives paying for our dependants – I much prefer the idea of working hard, building up a career, travelling the world, being in love and having a life without the overwhelming ticking noise in my ear. Perhaps it will hit me all of a sudden and my whole outlook on life will change, but for now I’ve taken the batteries out of my clock and plan to tick more stuff off my bucket list first! I wrote a post that you might find interesting with regards to Kirstie Allsopp’s views of children and careers – I’d love to hear your thoughts on it after reading this post! http://wp.me/p4Jjxn-pC

    Liked by 2 people

    • Goblin says:

      You see, I was with you right up until ‘we have a society of layabouts with an attitude that everything should be handed to them and they shouldn’t have to work because they are raising a family. They rely on the state and we end up in huge debt. Sound familiar?’. Given the rates of unemployment, the current financial crisis and the actual government spending figures, I can’t possibly agree.

      Like

  33. nerithenomad says:

    Having kids is something that’s been on my mind a lot lately. For me, thinking about it now isn’t really a matter of ‘everyone-else-is-doing-it’ as it is ‘forced’ upon me — I have PCOS and according to doctors that’s not exactly the best news when it comes to moms-to-be.
    What makes the matter difficult for me is I DO want kids, but I DON’T want to have them right now. My husband and I are the first of our siblings to marry, and there’s definitely pressure (subtle, but there) from both our parents to have kids asap. I think there’s definitely a cultural element to it.

    Thanks for your post. I did Google ‘daily mail’ and ‘biological clock’ and LOL-ed at the amount of junk they write about it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  34. Not quite 40 says:

    I have never had a burning desire to have a child, but I do know plenty of women who get very VERY broody about babies and want to have one – even though they know their family is actually complete. I have a six year old now, and he is adorable. He is a fantastic child. But I never felt broody or maternal before I had him; nor did I feel overwhelmingly maternal with an endorphin induced post-labour rush; nor do I feel it now (unless someone tries to hurt him and then I will want to rip their head off. So I guess it is in there somewhere, after all.)

    Like

  35. I hope that a majority of people would be having children because it seems (to them) like one of the most brilliant and rewarding projects/adventures imaginable, rather than as an inconvenient biological (or even worse, economic) imperative. But possibly that’s utopian talk…

    Liked by 1 person

  36. judygurfein says:

    It’s interesting how times have changed.

    Like

  37. zian1dew says:

    I think what you have said is true of a lot of women but they are too scared to say it out loud. It’s assumed we will all want to be baby making machines. I do have a little person however he was never a plan and had nothing to do with a big ticking clock.

    Like

  38. Buffy Leigh says:

    Thank you for this. For the past two decades I’ve been sick of hearing that I’m too young to make the decision to not ever want kids. Our doctor refuses to refer either me or my husband for surgery because we’re still “too young” (being 31 and 34), and my parents and in-laws still aren’t convinced they won’t get grandkids out of us (they’re all from families of 5 kids, had their own kids when they were younger than we are now, and ALL my cousins who are married have a kid or two each). I used to think it was because I hated kids, but now that I’ve met a couple of kids that I truly like as people, I know it’s because I simply just know I don’t want my own. My husband and I both knew we’d want to be selfish with our academic careers, and now that we’re done with school, we know we want to be selfish with living however we please as a blissful childless couple. That hasn’t changed in the 14 years we’ve known each other, and the almost 10 years we’ve been married. Aside from my husband though, I’ve never actually met anyone else that feels the same way as I do, so this post is a relief. Thank you!

    Like

  39. I’m the same – I often joke about not being given one at birth! I wrote a blog post too about not wanting children and the mystery we seem to cause to others!

    Like

  40. sammiestwins says:

    I think society is a lot to do with reproducing i have 3 children i didnt want. Children for long time but when. They came i couldn’t imagine my life without them…..but if your not wanting children dont get pressured into it 🙂 xx

    Like

  41. robinpost says:

    No ticking clock here either. I’ve always believed if I wanted a kid I would go and adopt one, and that’s only a vague sort of plan. I’m almost 30, so I figured the clock is broken because kids and fluffy things? Not that cute.

    Like

  42. geulisan says:

    Blogwalking
    Nice post
    http://geulisan.wordpress.com/

    Like

  43. lizard100 says:

    No ticking here. Maybe I’m digital. Not affected by my life circumstances either as I have found a great partner. Still can’t here it. But it is an increasingly isolated choice as I think I’m the only knd left who didn’t reproduce.

    Like

  44. Cody Conklin says:

    I, being of the opposite gender, was oblivious to this manufactured phenomenon and found this to be an interesting read.

    What I was extremely aware of is your radiatingly passionate writing style. Very well written, madame. I look forward to reading future posts.

    Like

  45. Mine didn’t tick AT ALL until I turned 35 and now a year later I am happily a Mother. I have friends well into their 40’s who never felt it and are happy living without children. I also have friends who had children early because theirs started ticking at about 19.

    Everyone’s different, there’s no right or wrong way to feel and society should just butt out of who ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ have children or dictate when and how they should. It’s your life and your body, feel how you feel and don’t worry about it.

    Like

  46. Mary F. says:

    I fluctuate between wanting kids and being grateful that I don’t have them. Kids are expensive and I worry about providing for them. In this economy, I don’t know how people manage.

    Like

  47. iRate says:

    The fact our so called biological clocks relate so strongly to social milestones seems to me slightly suspicious (i.e. it so often starts ‘ticking’ loudly from twenty-five onwards – after we have established our careers, got married or at least set up a nuclear family unit, ensured financial stability). Surely, a purely biological clock would encourage us to pro-create when we are teenagers (as is biologically preferably) and stop having children post thirty (certainly for the first time) because complications are increased in likelihood after this point (just to say I am not suggesting this – just pointing out the inconsistency). Alternatively, it should be called a ‘social’ clock but this does not mean that it is any less powerful or less genuine experience for people (not myself though). The ‘natural’ is often evoked in a desire for some sort of legitimacy but we forget that human beings, by definition, are social. There are incredibly powerful structures designed to create the desire to have children because in many ways the role of women in reproduction is crucial to the construction of our gender (the training for which happens very very early in our lives). If there was this biological clock, surely the rigorous and relentless social conditioning of females would be unnecessary? Despite the fact everything is designed to get women to be mothers first and forth most, is it not surprising how many women end up pushing back against these chains? Nevertheless, the social stigma is so coercive – I find myself under more and more pressure.

    Like

  48. frugoal says:

    Love your honesty. Mine has only started ticking in the last few months (and I am 33 in a small town where all of my girlfriends have 3 kids already in grade school- so I am pretty much a freak for being childless). Keep on keeping on and just do your thing!

    Like

  49. Nicky Locker says:

    I can relate with you on, apparently, not having a biological clock. I have never wanted children either. I have also gotten all those annoying comments from people who didn’t know me well enough to know better, “You’ll change your mind when you’re older, when you meet the right guy, etc.” Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and say, I don’t think so! I’m 32 now. I’m pretty sure I’d have felt SOMETHING by now by way of any desire whatsoever to bare my own children. Still, no thanks! I like how you correlate it to the relationship you had with your parents. My dad was never around much for my childhood and even less since, while my mom was very cold and overbearing. We were never close either, and I left as soon as I was legally able. Great read, thanks for posting!

    Like

  50. Reblogged this on Conversations I Wish I Had and commented:
    “I googled ‘biological clock’ and many of the articles I found simply assume a ‘ticking biological clock’ is a given. One actually goes so far as to describe babies as ‘sweet, lovable lady kryptonite’, but then it also makes a bunch of REALLY PROBLEMATIC gender assumptions”

    Like

  51. Miss Okabe says:

    You and I are much alike; I love kids. I adore my two baby nieces. But do I want kids? Not at all. Even when I see a newborn and I get all gushy over it, no part of me yearns for one of my own. I get the ‘you’ll want one later in life’ all the time, but I’m 31 so I really doubt that!

    Like

  52. If I ever had a biological clock, it stopped ticking at an early age. I completely relate to you. Great post!

    Like

  53. the8tregirl says:

    The smart woman is the one who realizes that just because she has a womb, she isn’t required to use it… especially if she knows & trusts herself to understand that she simply doesn’t want the resulting child in her life 24/7. I adore children, because the ones in my life I can give back. My nephews are coming to visit for the third time this year next month. Every visit is a joy, in the coming, the staying and the going. Even when we have had teenagers live with us for months at a time, they were always “going back” at some point so I could do the parent/friend/crazy aunt thing with pleasure and some pride. The clock doesn’t tick for me, and never did. But than, thank god (you should pardon the expression) I didn’t work for Hobby Lobby. Who also discriminate against Jews.

    Like

  54. umijamilah17 says:

    That’s wonderfull

    Like

  55. lensaddiction says:

    So many comments here echo experiences in my life. I knew at 15 I would never have children and Im in my mid 40s now and happily childless. The severe endometriosis i was diagnosed with at 21 probably took care of the ability, and like another poster I was told by the male medical establishment that I did not know what I wanted and they wouldnt give me a hysterectomy at the time (and saved me another 20+ years of suffering but hey)

    I utterly loathe children, tho to be fair its mostly the parents fault. Letting them scream and run about the place in public place *shudder* yes I am a bit of a misanthrope as well.

    Yes I got lots of grief for my choice over the years but funnily enuf all my female friends who have kids are so envious of my freedoms, the fact my time is my own (I’m single too), that I can lie in bed and read til lunchtime on the weekend, or go away for a weekend with my camera when I feel like it.

    So much society pressure and expectation, and familial as well. I went to a wedding for a couple who had been together for years and the brides mother got up and basically said “FINALLY NOW THERE CAN BE GRANDCHILDREN ALREADY!!!” It was excruciating as we were friends of the groom who happened to be a very strict vegetarian and have certain views about polluting the world etc.

    I feel sorry for the women who do have the biological clock imperitive. I see how they have to give up careers or drive themselves nuts trying to have it all, and really not enjoy any of it due to stress and exhaustion.

    Like

  56. ari1141 says:

    Reblogged this on ari1141 and commented:
    So true. And not something I have thought about lately but I know a lot of women that do

    Like

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